Wet Reckless plea reduction is a goal for many people facing a California DUI charge. In order to better understand the term “wet reckless” and the pros and cons of this type of plea bargain, I will explain the basics in this article. Keep in mind that every criminal case is unique and to determine the best approach to obtain a favorable plea reduction in your case, it would be best to speak directly with an experienced DUI lawyer before making any decisions.
Wet Reckless vs DUI
The primary benefit of a wet reckless plea bargain is that it is NOT a DUI conviction. The California Vehicle Code specifically outlines the penalties for a DUI conviction under Vehicle Code Section 23152. DUI convictions carry a long list of “mandatory minimum” penalties that can not be avoided if you are convicted of DUI. To better understand the benefits of a wet reckless plea, let’s start by considering some of the mandatory minimums for a regular DUI conviction in California.
First time DUI mandatory minimums in California
The mandatory minimums for a first time DUI are as follows:
- Maximum penalty of 6 months in the county jail
- Probation period of 3 years
- Fine of $390 plus penalty assessment which totals almost $2000
- Completion of a 3 month alcohol program known as AB541
- 6 month drivers license suspension
- SR-22 insurance certificate required for 3 years from date of conviction
- Installation of IID (Ignitition interlock device) if you are in Los Angeles county (Going statewide soon)
When a plea bargain is reached for a wet reckless, the DUI charges are dismissed by the prosecutor and a plea is entered to the new reduced charge of reckless driving. Technically speaking the plea is entered to California Vehicle Code Section 23103 per 23103.5. Dismissal of the DUI charges means that the mandatory minimum sentencing scheme can be avoided and more favorable terms can be negotiated with the prosecutor.
Read more: Is a DUI a Felony?
Wet Reckless Sentencing in California
- Maximum penalty of 3 months in the county jail
- Probation period can be shortened to 1 or 2 years. In some cases probation can be avoided completely. The sooner your probation is finished, the sooner you are eligible to apply to clean your record with an expungement under PC 1203.4
- No mandatory minimum fine for wet reckless. Opens the door to negotiate lower fines
- No mandatory minimum program length. Wet reckless plea bargains often include a 12 hour class per SB1176
- No license suspension is triggered
- SR-22 not required
- No IID (Ignition interlock device)
Are there any negatives to a Wet?
Yes! The biggest negative to this type of plea bargain is that it will still count as a prior conviction if you are convicted of DUI in the future. If you accept this type of plea deal and you are convicted of another DUI within 10 years, you will face the mandatory sentencing scheme on a second time DUI.
The fact that the original DUI was dismissed when you took the reduced plea will not help you on the second case. A second potential negative is if you are in a situation where you have a strong defense, you may be able to get a better plea bargain than a wet reckless.
So while a wet might be a great plea deal in some cases, in other cases you should seek a further reduction or proceed to jury trial if you have a good change of success.
Read More: DUI Expungement